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Sabarimala turns into a fortress

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Sabrimala Temple

Sabarimala (Kerala), Nov 4 : With the Lord Ayyappa shrine opening for a day on Monday, the temple town has been virtually taken over by some 2,300 Kerala Police personnel after protests marred the last pilgrimage season.

The pilgrims will be allowed to go up the pathway only on Monday afternoon, an official said.

The temple opens its door at 5 p.m. and closes on Tuesday at 10 p.m.

Pathanamthitta District Collector P.B. Nooh has declared prohibitory orders in and around the temple town banning the gathering of four or more persons to foil street protests.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and numerous Hindu groups are up in arms against the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court that allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple.

The Kerala government has said it will implement the ruling, pitting it against the protesters.

All the roads leading from Nilackal to the base camp of the temple town Pamba are barricaded and have been declared out of bounds till Monday morning by the police.

The police are checking each and every vehicle that passes in and around the temple town. On Sunday, after protests, the police allowed the media to travel till Nilackal.

Kerala BJP spokesperson M.T. Ramesh warned the police against examining the holy kit (Irrumudi Kettu) that is carried on the head by the pilgrims.

Former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that there appeared to be some shady goings on as the media had never before been banned into the temple town.

“If the media is kept away, then the authorities want to hide something,” he said.

State Congress President Mulapally Ramachandran said: “Parties like CPI, academics, intelligentsia and socio-cultural icons should prevail upon (Chief Minister Pinarayi) Vijayan to see that he handles this very sensitive issue in a more mature way.”

The Sabarimala Karma Samithi has written to media groups not to depute lady journalists to cover Monday’s events at the temple that are generally out of bounds for women in the age group 10 to 50.

The Samithi is angry that when the temple opened for the monthly prayers last month, attempts by two women journalists to do their job from the temple top were thwarted by protesters.

The representatives of the Pandalam Royal family, the custodian of the jewellery of the Sabarimala temple, said the temple was passing through “tough times” as the temple town had been taken over by the police.

“We will hold a special prayer and singing of hymns when the temple opens,” said Sreekumar Varma.

Pathanamthitta district Superintendent of Police T. Narayanan said on Sunday that as of now, there had been no request from women to enter the shrine.

As of Sunday , the police have registered 545 cases and arrested 3,731 persons who protested last month when the temple opened for six days.

Only around 100 are still in jail, while the rest have secured bail.

India

Farmers at Delhi-Ghazipur border to intensify stir if demands not met

The new farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and the Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

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Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Farmers protesting at Delhi-Ghazipur border against the three contentious agricultural laws on Friday warned that they will amplify the protest by blocking more roads and choking supply of food products to the national capital if another round of discussion between them and the central government fails to yield results on Saturday.

On Thursday, the fourth round of talks between the Union government and farmers’ representatives at Vigyan Bhawan did not reach any conclusion, but the government has softened its stance on some demands of the farmers. Farmers have, however, refused to stop protests till the three farm laws are repealed. Another round of discussion is slated for Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rakesh Tikait, Spokesperson of Bharat Kisan Union, which is spearheading the protest at the border point, told IANS, “Farmers want the government to take back the laws and make a fresh draft. Currently, it is for the corporates. The law should be for the farmers and they must be consulted. Either the government will agree to our requests tomorrow or we will keep protesting. More farmers are ready to come here.”

Another senior member of the union, on condition of anonymity, said that if the demands are not met, farmers will stay put to even witness the January 26 parade and run their tractors on the roads of the national capital.

President of Tarai Kisan Sangathan Tejinder Singh Virk said resonated the same sentiment, “If the government does not accept our demands tomorrow, we will choke the supply of milk, vegetables and fruits going to the national capital. Blocking the roads was a mere first step. We will decide on the next step tomorrow.”

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last nine days at the Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP Ghazipur border and the Delhi-UP Chilla border.

The agitated farmers are demanding the repeal of the three farm laws passed by the Parliament earlier this year and have expressed apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate houses.

The new farm laws are – The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and the Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment).

The government has maintained that the new laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.

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Health

India will start vaccination only after expert nod: PM seeks suggestions

The samples tested up to December 3 is 14,47,27,749 including 11,70,102 tested on Thursday, said the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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Vaccine Covid

New Delhi : Addressing an all-party meeting on Covid vaccines delivery and distribution, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that state governments’ advise will be sought on the matter as to who all will get the inoculation first, and urged political leaders to write in their suggestions.

“Experts believe that the vaccines will be ready in few weeks, and Indian scientist are very confident of developing them,” Modi said.

Public health will be top priority for the government as pricing of the vaccines are concerned, he said adding that the vaccination process will start only after the experts give nod.

Government has suggested first vaccination for frontline Covid warriors and health workers to get vaccinated first.

The all-party meeting was called for suggestions for feedback on the progress made so far and was attended by all political parties in Parliament.

The Prime Minister had earlier interacted with team of developers and visited three cities on Saturday to conduct an extensive review of the vaccine development and manufacturing process, going to the Zydus Biotech Park in Ahmedabad, the Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad and the Serum Institute of India in Pune.

With 36,595 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, India’s overall tally increased to 95,71,559 on Friday, as 540 more fatalities took the Covid-19 toll to 1,39,188, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.

India witnessed a 3% rise in fresh cases and 2.7 rise in deaths since Thursday.

Currently, there are 4,16,082 active cases, whereas 90,16,289 patients have been discharged so far, including 42,916 discharged in the past 24 hours.

The recovery rate stands at 94.2 per cent and fatality at 1.45 as per cent, the Ministry said.

The samples tested up to December 3 is 14,47,27,749 including 11,70,102 tested on Thursday, said the Indian Council of Medical Research.

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India

Indian Navy day: Focus on safeguarding sea lanes to boost trade

Stressing jointness, he said that The Navy’s P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles had been deployed in the Ladakh sector bordering China following requests from the Army and Air Force.

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Indian Navy day

New Delhi: The Indian Navy will play a key role in Indias drive to become a $5-trillion economy, with a fleet of three aircraft carriers, submarines, aircraft and drones to ensure that sea lanes for trade are always secure.

Speaking ahead of Navy day on Friday, Navy Chief Karambir Singh made a strong pitch during a press conference for a third aircraft carrier to secure trade and commerce in the Indo-Pacific region.

“If you want to be a $5-trillion economy… you will have to go outwards. The Navy does not want to be tethered to the shore. For that, aircraft carriers are absolutely essential,” Admiral Singh observed, pointing out that without exercising carrier-based sea control, a rising India’s trade lifelines cannot be safeguarded.

The navy chief noted that China’s assertiveness had “significantly increased the complexities in the security situation”, but Beijing’s forays in the Indian Ocean so far had not disturbed the naval balance of power in these waters. He pointed out that Chinese fishing and research vessels were operating in the Indian Ocean, but none of them has violated India’s maritime boundaries. Only three warships of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have been present in the Gulf of Aden in the Indian Ocean region for anti-piracy operations since 2008.

However, analysts point out that the navy’s responsibilities were likely to surge in the coming days, as military tensions between India and China rise. Analysts point out that the navy can leverage its dominance over the 10 degree and six-degree channels in the Andaman sea, which is used by Chinese commercial ships for trade. India’s growing relationship with the Indo-Pacific Quad, comprising India, the United States, Australia and Japan can be a factor in beefing up the Navy’s heft along these channels at the gates of the Malacca straits-the point of entry for international shipping, including that of China, into the South China Sea and the broader Pacific Ocean.

The navy chief also stressed that the force was engaged in bolstering its aviation arm, with an eye of using its assets, wherever possible, with its sister services.

Stressing jointness, he said that The Navy’s P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles had been deployed in the Ladakh sector bordering China following requests from the Army and Air Force.

“Air operations are integral to naval operations. Air power at sea is required here and now. The Navy is all about reach and sustenance,”Singh said. He pointed out that the Navy is working with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to build a multi-role carrier-based combat jet to replace the existing fleer of MiG-29 K.

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